Despite evidence that the ability to taste is weakened by obesity and can be rescued with weight loss intervention, few studies have investigated the molecular effects of obesity on the taste system. Taste bud cells undergo continual turnover even in adulthood, exhibiting an average life span of only a few weeks, tightly controlled by a balance of proliferation and cell death. Recent data reveal that an acute inflammation event can alter this balance.
We demonstrate that chronic low-grade inflammation brought on by obesity reduces the number of taste buds in gustatory tissues of mice-and is likely the cause of taste dysfunction seen in obese populations-by upsetting this balance of renewal and cell death.
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